"Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of Peace must be constructed."
Extract from the Preamble to the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), signed on November 16, 1945. It was published by writer Paiva Netto in his book Reflexões da Alma [Reflections of the Soul].
March 8 is International Women’s Day. Even in the 21st century women have been the victims of the worst atrocities, among which is the abominable crime of rape, for which there is no bail. This is a disgrace to Humanity.
In the Preamble to the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which was approved on November 16, 1945, we find a description of this reality: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of Peace must be constructed." In 2003, I made it a point to open my book Reflexões da Alma [Reflections of the Soul] with this teaching. It really outlines our work plans. However, I consider it important to show that this accurate warning has to do with human beings in general and not just with men.
My greetings to the international delegations, authorities, and all the participants who decidedly meet here in New York, USA, between March 9 and 20, 2015, during the 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, organized by the United Nations (UN), with the noble intention of discussing the central theme: "Beijing+20 (2015)." This meeting will promote a deep reflection about the progress that has been made and the setbacks that have occurred since 1995 when the Fourth World Conference on Women took place in Beijing, China, which defined as its main focus to work for gender equality and to fight discrimination against women and girls all over the world.
It is always a great honor for the Legion of Good Will (LGW), since the beginning, to support these debates with its own contribution and strive to defend this fundamental objective, above all in a globalized and warlike world.
When we participated in that memorable meeting in 1995, we sent a message to the conference attendees, which had been previously published in 1987 in the International Business and Management magazine. The article was entitled: "There is no World without China," and among other topics in it, I wrote:
The path of the LGW is Peace. No more wars! Brutality is the law of irrational beings, not of human beings, who consider themselves to be superior. We defend the valuing of individuals taking into account the indispensable equality, above all spiritual, of the genders, since the wealth of a country lies in its people. . . .
Let us make ours these words of Apostle Peter, in his First Epistle 3:11:
"Turn away from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it."
This much desired Peace, the legitimate and necessary antidote to the spiritual, social, and physical problems, such as global crises, will be achieved when we also no longer have any type of discrimination against women and girls (actually, children of both sex). In doing so, we shall guarantee them empowerment and autonomy so they can be the protagonists in dismantling the absurd cruelty that dominates the hardened innermost core of individuals, by using the maternal feelings that are born in the hearts of each woman regardless of whether they are mothers of carnal children. As I defend, with all my strength, all women are mothers.
The example of Hypatia
I recall an example of a pioneering personality in mathematics, astronomy, and an icon of philosophy in ancient times, who I paid tribute to in my article "Hypatia, the Mother of Philosophers." Ascetic and celibate, she left no heirs, but, as I said in 1987, there are many sublime ways of being a mother, including giving birth to great achievements in favor of Humanity.
Such was the case of Hypatia (approximately 355-415). Her dedication to metaphysical matters generated offspring, which should continually remind us of the constant need to seek for answers to the questions that have forever afflicted us. At a time when female intellectuality was not recognized, her theses influenced many powerful people. Her lectures were not only confined to the philosophical field, because she was also sought out to give her opinion about political and community matters.
However, in an environment of strong intolerance, Hypatia began to upset people. The atrocity used to take her life would cause horror even among the most cruel executioners of all times.
As we do not want the terrible attitudes that were adopted against the philosopher of Alexandria to be repeated, it is worth highlighting the text taken from the "Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action — Women in Power and Decisionmaking," in which we read:
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to take part in the Government of his/her country. The empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of women’s social, economic and political status is essential for the achievement of both transparent and accountable government and administration and sustainable development in all areas of life."
This is a decisive step towards extinguishing the intolerance that sponsors disastrous actions against Humanity.
The needed protection at home
In general, the first people to suffer the deplorable damage caused by planetary conflagrations are precisely women and girls (in fact, all children). Therefore, we can observe imminent danger still surrounding the good ideals of seeing them free and secure in their own homes.
Violence against them is a sad reality affecting several regions in the world, even in countries that have already advanced with regard to laws that protect them. In other words, it is not restricted to those areas where there is a declared conflict. There is a type of disguised war that lurks around our homes, communities, companies, municipalities, States, religions . . . Wherever there is violence there we shall find the horrendous face of hatred!
This vile aspect was known by the valiant British nurse born in Florence, then capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, now Italy, Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). She fought to break the retrograde conventions concerning the role of women in society in her time and believed she had been called by God to serve a great purpose. With her self-denial, she was at the forefront of considerable progress in the field of health in the Victorian Age. During her inestimable contribution to caring for English soldiers during the Crimean War, the "Lady with the Lamp" rightly declared in a letter dated May 5, 1855:
"What the horrors of war are, no one can imagine—they are not wounds and blood and fever, spotted and low, or dysentery, chronic and acute, cold and heat and famine—they are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoralization and disorder on the part of the inferior, jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior. . . ."
Although faced with such a harsh reality, let us never forget this maxim of the famous Brazilian scientist, doctor, bacteriologist, epidemiologist, and public health official, Dr. Oswaldo Cruz (1872-1917):
"Don’t despair in order not to belittle yourself."
I equally emphasize in my talks that if something is difficult to be accomplished, let us begin right away, like yesterday! There is a lot to be done. No undertaking that aims at solving earthly ills can be conceived without the effective participation of women.
While re-reading my book Jesus, a Dor e a origem de Sua Autoridade [Jesus, the Pain and Origin of His Authority], which was launched on November 8, 2014, I came across some modest notes which I would like to share with you, who honor me with your reading.
Unfortunately, people have still not adjusted their lenses to see that true harmony begins in the enlightened innermost part of each creature, through spiritual knowledge, generosity, and justice. As I often say, and I will comment on this at other times, these virtues produce abundance. The tranquility that the Heavenly Father-Mother—seen from one side to the other, with equilibrium, and recognized as being the inspirer of Ecumenical Fraternity—has to offer frees us from the frustration resultant from so many inefficient deals and agreements throughout our History. Brazilian engineer and abolitionist André Rebouças (1838- 1898) translated the inertia of exclusively human perspectives into a metaphor:
". . . Armed peace is to war as chronic disease is to acute disease; like a stubborn fever to typhus. All these diseases annihilate and kill nations; it’s just a matter of time." [Emphasis added]
Now, experiencing disarmed Peace, based on the fraternal instruction of all nations, is a measure for the survival of people that cannot be postponed. But for this to happen hearts must first be disarmed, while preserving good sense, as I pointed out to young people of all ages who heard me speak in the city of Jundiaí, Brazil, in September 1983. . . .
The deadly, mental, and physical weapons will lose all their terrible significance and bad reason for existing, on the day wisely reeducated individuals no longer have sufficient hatred to fire them.
We need to deactivate the explosives, stop holding the grudges that insist on dwelling within human hearts; to untrigger the anger with which armaments are fired, with a force mightier than hatred. This powerful energy is Love—not the still incipient love of men—but the Love of God, on which all of us need to feed. We have in our hands the strongest tool in the world. This is what is going to avoid all the different types of war, which first emerge in the Souls, when ill, of living beings. It is an educational, more than that, re-educational work to be done within a wide range.
Nevertheless, let us always remember this energetic reflection of Confucius (551- 479 BC):
"Repay Kindness with Kindness, but evil with Justice."
Also in Jesus, a Dor e a origem de Sua Autoridade [Jesus, the Pain and Origin of His Authority] I ratify the transforming Power fostered by Fraternal Love. The practice of this sublime consciousness and divine emotion, allied with true Justice and not to mere acts of justice, results in the most effective Politics that human beings can exercise. Time will show this to those who are pessimistic.
Overcoming the obstacles
People discuss the problem of violence on the radio, on television, in the press, or on the Internet and become even more perplexed because they are unable to find the solution for eradicating it, despite so many brilliant theories. They generally look for this result far away and down twisting, convoluted paths. But it is not distant from here; it is really close, inside us: God!
"the Kingdom of God is within you." Jesus (Luke 17:21)
We must always repeat that "God is Love!" (First Epistle of John 4:8) Not the trivial love, but the Force that moves the Universe, according to Dante Alighieri (1265- 1321).
Alziro Zarur (1914-1979), late founder of the LGW, used to say that, "in fact, whoever truly loves God loves their fellow being, whatever his/her religion or irreligion."
I bring to you one of my meditations that I wrote in the book Reflexões da Alma [Reflections of the Soul] (2003): the heart becomes more inclined to listen when Love is the basis of the dialogue. And a good dialogue is basic to the exercise of democracy, which is the regime of responsibility.
Peace is not a utopia
In closing this article, I turn to an argument I presented during my speeches transmitted on radio and television, which is appropriate as well for those who perhaps may be thinking that the responsible construction of Peace is an impossible task: . . . Is this Utopia? Why?! Everything today that is seen as progress was considered to be something mad in a not so ancient past. . . .
The more investment made in education, teaching, culture, and nourishment, enlightened by the Higher Spirituality, the better the health of the people will be; therefore, the greater spiritual, moral, mental, and physical qualifications they will have for life and work and less will be spent on security. "Oh, this is work for years to come!!" That is why we must not waste time! If we do, the civilizing achievements in the world—beginning with gender equality, empowerment, and autonomy for women and girls—, which are threatening to collapse, will give way to a contagious disillusionment that will affect the whole Earth. We cannot allow such a situation to arise.
The fraternal greeting that Jesus taught His Apostles and Disciples is ecumenically extended to all earthly beings as a valuable invitation to live in peace with one another in the planet, our collective dwelling:
"When you enter a house, first say: May there be Peace in this house!" Jesus (Luke 10:5)